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Car rental economics
Old 07-08-2008, 09:36 AM   #1
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Car rental economics

We are going on a trip to visit DW's family next month and wanted to rent a car while we are there. We made a reservation with Hertz a few months ago when we bought the plane tickets. The cheapest thing that would reasonably fit all of us was a "midsize SUV" described as a RAV4, Ford Escape, etc. Total tab was $665.

Flash forward to today. I checked prices again and found that I could get a small car (and squash us all in) for $500 or so. Large cars, minivans, etc. ran $600 to over $1000. But a midsized SUV was offered by another rental company for $345. Sold. Made the new reservation, cancelled the old one. No way on earth will I burn enough gas to come anywhere near the price differential between the SUV and something else.

Is there that much media influence on consumers that they are making foolish decisions like this? I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, but I am.
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Old 07-08-2008, 09:39 AM   #2
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Is there that much media influence on consumers that they are making foolish decisions like this? I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, but I am.
Seems right in line with the folks who are itching to sell their trucks & SUVs to buy an economy car - and lose thousands to "save" on their gas bill.
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Old 07-08-2008, 09:45 AM   #3
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Seems right in line with the folks who are itching to sell their trucks & SUVs to buy an economy car - and lose thousands to "save" on their gas bill.
Not to mention Motor Homes.
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Old 07-08-2008, 09:46 AM   #4
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I've noticed (and heard) that rental car companies are offering a lot of "free upgrades" to people who have small cars reserved after they come to the rental counter.

By the way: the "media influence" you talk of is similar to the influence which panics people into selling stocks low and eggs on their irrational exuberance to get them to buy high. And it's the same influence which has them trying to unload their SUV at a $10,000 loss which would take MANY years of burning $5 gas to recover from. So I"m totally not surprised.
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Old 07-08-2008, 10:00 AM   #5
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Not to mention Motor Homes.
Heh, you won't catch me trying to unload my rolling money pit big toy anytime soon. I figure I'd take a $20-25k haircut to "save" $2-3k per year in fuel costs. Even with my limited education I can see the math doesn't add up.
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Old 07-08-2008, 10:01 AM   #6
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I've been offered those free upgrades. Two weeks ago, I drove a PT Cruiser off the lot instead of a compact car. They never seem to offer a free upgrade to a convertible.

Along the same vein, the rental "Green Collection" cars cost a lot more than the same-MPG "economy" cars.
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Old 07-08-2008, 10:04 AM   #7
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After two of us, a dog and a bird living in a 23.5 foot MH for a month and a half I am ready to buy a big MFing motorhome.

Not seeing the deals one should see out there.
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Old 07-08-2008, 10:06 AM   #8
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I just came back a week ago from a vacation in Scotsdale Arizona and we drove to San Diego CA for 3 days as well. Received a weeks rental of a Ford Escape for $22 a day for a weekly rental, plus taxes which are considerable in Arizona, total was $257 for the week. The only car offered cheaper was an Aveo for $21 per day.

Of course the gas in San Diego was $4.79 per gallon......
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Old 07-08-2008, 10:08 AM   #9
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Heh, you won't catch me trying to unload my rolling money pit big toy anytime soon. I figure I'd take a $20-25k haircut to "save" $2-3k per year in fuel costs. Even with my limited education I can see the math doesn't add up.

Heck, its easy to save fuel with a MoHo. Park it. Do so at a park if you like, but its not like you'll starve or lose your job by doing so.
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Old 07-08-2008, 10:16 AM   #10
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After two of us, a dog and a bird living in a 23.5 foot MH for a month and a half I am ready to buy a big MFing motorhome.

Not seeing the deals one should see out there.
I'm seeing some reasonably good deals on Craigslist, but you know you'll have to get serious and make someone an offer to see how soft prices really are. If fuel prices don't ease up I'll bet some folks will start getting a little desperate in a few months.
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Old 07-08-2008, 10:20 AM   #11
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I'm seeing some reasonably good deals on Craigslist, but you know you'll have to get serious and make someone an offer to see how soft prices really are. If fuel prices don't ease up I'll bet some folks will start getting a little desperate in a few months.
Desperation has not set in yet, but the prices of nice fishing boats are beginning to fall............
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Old 07-08-2008, 01:28 PM   #12
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But a midsized SUV was offered by another rental company for $345. Sold. Made the new reservation, cancelled the old one. No way on earth will I burn enough gas to come anywhere near the price differential between the SUV and something else.
You'll have to wait until after you're done with the car. Have you seen the Seinfeld episode on "But I have a reservation!?!?"

I fear that the cheaper rental company will be absolutely vicious and full of scare tactics about upselling. (They probably don't know you well enough to recognize the error of their ways.) Last summer we also got nailed by the "damaged windshield" scam. So now before we drive away we walk around (in plain view of the staff) taking digital photos of the car.
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Old 07-08-2008, 01:33 PM   #13
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After two of us, a dog and a bird living in a 23.5 foot MH for a month and a half I am ready to buy a big MFing motorhome.

Not seeing the deals one should see out there.
The big MFing motorhomes are not near the quality of what you already own, unless you go with $$$$ Foretravel.

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Old 07-08-2008, 01:37 PM   #14
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I fear that the cheaper rental company will be absolutely vicious and full of scare tactics about upselling. (They probably don't know you well enough to recognize the error of their ways.) Last summer we also got nailed by the "damaged windshield" scam. So now before we drive away we walk around (in plain view of the staff) taking digital photos of the car.
I avoid one of the rental agencies at the airport we are flying to because they are extremely aggressive on the upsell and the pricing strategy is sleazy ("what, you want us to come deal with the car we gave you if it falls apart on the road? That will be an extra $2 a day.").

I usually give the rental agent the smackdown early on and that's it. I am very, very careful with the walk-around since I did a short stint as a car rental agent in my youth.
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Old 07-08-2008, 01:40 PM   #15
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We always have used Hertz. Never ran into a problem with them. This spring in TX. Our car would not start without a jump when we were leaving from our relatives. We told Hertz. The lady at the desk gave us a 50.00 dollar voucher to use anytime. Quite pleased with them. Knock on wood.

But Im going to do the photo shoot next time before we leave and after we get back. Thats a good idea. Never dawned on me.
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Old 07-08-2008, 01:41 PM   #16
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Not to mention Motor Homes.
It's amazing how much touring you can do on a single tank of fuel. We're over 2 months and have thoroughly explored northern CA and 2/3 of the OR coast and stayed at 10 different spectacular locations. Keeping our fingers crossed that we can finish the OR coast tour before another fuel up is required.

Diesel is up 60 cents a gallon since we last filled the MH on May 2. Of course, it's past double what it was when we started our adventure 3 years ago.

But still, it's those long distances crossing the country that kill you. I know we'll be feeling the bigger pinch when we head back into the interior....

Audrey
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Old 07-08-2008, 01:52 PM   #17
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It's amazing how much touring you can do on a single tank of fuel. We're over 2 months and have thoroughly explored northern CA and 2/3 of the OR coast and stayed at 10 different spectacular locations. Keeping our fingers crossed that we can finish the OR coast tour before another fuel up is required.

Diesel is up 60 cents a gallon since we last filled the MH on May 2. Of course, it's past double what it was when we started our adventure 3 years ago.

But still, it's those long distances crossing the country that kill you. I know we'll be feeling the bigger pinch when we head back into the interior....

Audrey
Do you have the "super duper" 250 gallon tank??
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Old 07-08-2008, 02:02 PM   #18
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I'm thinking the rental car companies are hurting.

My wife and I are going to Vegas this week and the going rate for a midsize car was $9-$12 a day.

Except for Hertz which was stuck at $50 a day.
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Old 07-08-2008, 02:06 PM   #19
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I'm thinking the rental car companies are hurting.

My wife and I are going to Vegas this week and the going rate for a midsize car was $9-$12 a day.

Except for Hertz which was stuck at $50 a day.
We are getting the cornhole on rates because there is a major event going on in town the following week and I suspect we are getting hit by it. But I will be watching car rental rates carefully to see if they really go into the ditch.
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Old 07-08-2008, 10:32 PM   #20
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Do you have the "super duper" 250 gallon tank??
Nope. 115 gallons. But I have never filled more than 99 gallons! And I felt that was really pushing it.

It's common for us to go well over 600 miles and occasionally over 700 between fill ups. A fill up is usually 75 to 85 gallons.

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